‘Oklahoma!’ plays to a full house for all four performances


Maia Bond, Editor In Chief

From March 8-10, Rolla High School’s drama department showcased Oklahoma! A nail biting story of Curly McClain fighting off Judd Fry in a dramatic attempt to get Laurey Williams all while in the territory of Oklahoma. The show began preparations as early as December and featured some with now seven shows under their belt as well and newcomers with no acting experience.

After years in theater, for his senior year, Kelly Brown tried his luck auditioning for the lead spot as Curly McClain, the curly haired cowboy.

“This part has a lot of singing and it’s a really big part so I was excited to do it. I auditioned, memorized my monologue, and tried to be as country and old time western as I could be. I finally got the part and worked very hard to memorize all of the lines and all of the blocking and singing,” Brown said.

Though a definite staple in not only high school drama but community theater, Brown worked for months perfecting his part and knew that it was “definitely a difficult role to play,”
“We started out doing just about two hour rehearsals in January. In December, we learned all the solo and duet music so that was about an hour every day after school then. We have practiced about every day except Mondays for at least two hours since then. This past week we have gone from 4 to 10 at night,” Brown said.

The time commitment required wore on first time actor, senior Rhys Proffitt. Having never been in a production, he took a risk and auditioned for the part of Slim.

“It is my senior year, so I just wanted to get outside my comfort zone. I have always been interested in it and it was my last chance to do it,” Proffitt said.

Though the practices were hard, he met “so many new, supportive friends” along the way who helped him learn through the months about singing, dancing, and performing.

Because this particular show is so musical, they struggled to remain well throughout the colder months and flu season. In order to maintain a good voice, cast members had to stay hydrated and limit their talking and volume. The intense musicality and subject of Oklahoma! was something that the drama department had never done before.

“My first show was Once Upon a Mattress which was more of a renaissance story. I wore tights and loose clothing and was a funny, kind of dumb character. It was a fun character. Last year we did Guys and Dolls and I did a New York accent and wore a fancy suit. Now I do a country accent and walk bow legged with boots on. It is definitely different and extremely musical,” Brown said.

Besides what happens on the stage, the props and mechanics of the show proved difficult as well. Stage Manager and senior Kelly DeNise worked mainly in the booth, calling cues to the stage managers backstage.

“We don’t have that many scene changes but for what we do we are moving giant props on and off stage. We have an eight by eight foot platform that has a wall in the middle. One side is the front porch of Laurey’s house and the other is the inside of Judd’s smokehouse,” DeNise said.

Although sometimes difficult to pull together, as Rolla High School’s drama department continues to up their production value, tickets continue to sell. Last year’s show also sold out on Friday and Saturday, and Brown looked forward to performing for a full house.

“To have three sold out shows is absolutely amazing. It means we are getting the most money out of our show that is possible. We are really excited and the more people that are there, the more energy that comes to us as performers,” Brown said.

Despite his experience with theater and excitement for the crowd, he still gets nervous with each performance. He opens the show by singing without any music behind him, walking up from a field of corn.

“I think this is one of the biggest roles I have been nervous for. But my confidence builds with each good performance and knowing the house is full gives a boost of confidence too. If you’re not nervous though, then you’re doing something wrong,” Brown said.

After an exceedingly successful show of Oklahoma, Brown had just one show left with Rolla High School, nearing the end of his long career with the high school theater.

“It feels very bittersweet. I love performing with every single person in the cast and this is my last one, but I am also glad to be moving onto bigger and better things,” Brown said.